Dogs: Head High or Low or Doesn’t Matter?

March 23, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More

Grouse man of letters Burton Spiller said in one of his books that a good grouse dog must run with its head held high. We remembered that passage recently when looking at a recent article in a Wisconsin newspaper, which read in part:

> Some bird dogs can detect the very subtle scent of [birds] from remarkable distances, which is not necessarily good for hunting.

> “I had a pointer one time that ran with his head held way up high. When the dog pointed, his nose was pointed upwards. Depending on the scenting conditions, the birds might be 100 yards away. A lot of hunters who saw that dog didn’t like him because they couldn’t figure out where the birds were.”

The birds they were talking about were quail, but not sure that matters.

We also tripped over this info on a forum:

The two original pointing breeds were setters and English pointers. All other pointing breeds were derived from hounds: shorthairs, brittanys, wirehairs, vizslas, etc. These breeds were bred to do multiple tasks: track game, retrieve and so forth.

Setters, pointers and now GSPs (because almost all American GSPs have some English pointer in them) were bred to scent the air. Other “versatile breeds” were bred to take scent from the ground. Do some of these breeds air-scent? Absolutely. It’s just not how they were originally designed.

Air-scenting is vitally important when hunting birds that don’t take pressure because they can be located from a greater distance. However you do lose some tracking ability with downed birds.

Any Dog’ll Do Ya?

Good grouse dog?

The final nugget to throw in the blender today is an experience we had hunting in Minnesota last year. We were talking to a local guy who worked at a hunt/fish store, and he said that “anything with a nose” will do in the grouse woods.

We asked him to explain, and he repeated himself then told us about a buddy of his who grouse-hunted with dachshunds. Seriously!

We looked around, wondering if we were being filmed on some secret-cam outdoor show – and honestly didn’t know whether to take him seriously even though he sure seemed serious.

Yet the next day we saw this in the grouse woods:

An old gentleman got out of a pickup truck right where we’d seen a grouse cross a road about 5 mins previously (we were driving and had to turn around and go back the way we came). It was a small, old pickup. He reached into the cab, and came out with a shotgun and what Jay calls a “yipper dog.” You know, one of those small, furry, white breeds some ladies put bows on.


The guy put the dog on the ground, and walked into the woods, gun in hand right after it.


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Comments (1)

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  1. WI Brookie Guy says:

    I can’t remember who to atribute the quote to (Roy Strickland?) and I’m paraphrasing from memory, but the story went something like this:

    A sport showed up at a field trial with his setter and was bragging how it hunted with a high head at all times and the retort was the dog was missing. The response to his bragging was, “Give me a dog whose nose is where the bird scent is”.

    Bottom line — high head/low head, all that matters is that the head is positioned where it can scent the bird.

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